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Korea ramps up efforts to boost youth employment

The South Korean government announced Wednesday its latest unemployment support measures for youth in an attempt to help the frustrated young unemployed.

The new measures aim to relieve the financial burden for young job seekers, change unfair employment practices and encourage those who start their own businesses, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said.
Young job seekers search through booths at a job fair for youth in Seoul (Yonhap)
Young job seekers search through booths at a job fair for youth in Seoul (Yonhap)

The measures include eased conditions for mandatory military service for those who start their own business after graduating from high school and expanding financial support for low-income job seekers.

The government will fortify punishments on employers who fail to sign official employment contracts, do not meet minimum wage requirements or do not pay on time.

“While continuing to improve the fundamental economic situation which will lead to job creation, we will pay attention to solving employment problems for underprivileged youth and creating a fair working environment,” a ministry official said.

The latest measures come as recent jobless data shows a deteriorating market for young job seekers, despite the government’s measures to create jobs.

The government introduced a series of measures to boost employment in July 2015 and April 2016. But the situation for the nation’s young unemployed has not improved amid the sluggish domestic and global economy.

The Ministry of Finance and Strategy warned that weak consumption and corporate restructuring would continue to reduce quality jobs.

South Korea’s youth unemployment rate reached 12.3 percent in February, down slightly from a record 12.5 percent tallied a year earlier, but up sharply from January’s 8.6 percent, data from Statistics Korea showed last week.

Another set of statistics showed Tuesday that more and more young South Koreans are giving up job search efforts. South Koreans aged 15-29 not trying to find a job numbered 362,000 in February, up 11,600 from the previous month. It was the highest since February 2013 and marked the first on-year increase in 15 months.

By Park Ga-young (